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Test Preparation

SAT Format

The SAT structure is as follows:

SectionsMathematicsCritical ReadingWriting and LanguageEssay (Optional)
Time80 minutes (55 minutes with calculator + 25 minutes without calculator)65 minutes44 minutes50 minutes
Number of Questions5852441
Concentrated Focus onProblem-solving and data analysis;
"The Heart of Algebra";
"Passport to Advanced Math";
Real-world problem solving accompanied by informational graphics
1 Evidence-Based Reading to test understanding of U.S. and World Literature"Expression of Ideas" and "Standard English Conventions" through passages relating to Careers, History/Social Studies, Humanities, and ScienceReading, analysis, and writing skills; requires students to analyze a source document and explain how the author builds an argument

SAT Scoring Methodology

Talking about relevant SAT information, two sections of SAT (Mathematics and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing) will be scored on a scale that ranges from 200-800 points giving a possible total of 1600. Sub scores and insight scores will also be reported along with an optional essay (scored separately).

Questions that a student does not answer do not count either for or against their score. Neither are points taken away for wrong answers on the math questions where the answers has to be entered into a grid. The raw score for each section is then converted into a scaled score. This is where the score of 200–800 points comes from, which is done through a statistical process called 'equating'.

Key points to bear in mind when taking the New SAT:

  • As against to the old SAT guidelines, there is no negative marking or wrong-answer penalty.
  • Too much time is often taken up answering specific questions, especially, in the Critical Reading section, which results in loss of valuable time to attempt other questions. Also, the critical reading section now does not asks for sentence completions.
  • There are only 4 answer choices per question in the New SAT test format.
  • Only a portion of questions focus on in-depth analysis of content and evidence
  • SAT is available in print and digitally

The Chopras 10 key insights into the SAT:

  1. In India, the SAT is offered in the months of January, May, June, October, November and December.
  2. The test is generally conducted on the first Saturday of the month (except in the month of January, when it is held on the last Saturday).
  3. Students have 3 hours (3 hours 50 minutes with optional essay) to take the SAT, not including breaks and check-in time.
  4. After taking the SAT, students may cancel their score up until the Wednesday after they have taken the exam.
  5. The best time to take the SAT is in class 11, or at the beginning of class 12, with at least six to eight months before the board exams commence.
  6. SAT scores are valid for five years.
  7. Students can take the test more than once to see if they can score better but they should only do so if they are confident that they can improve. Two to three times is the maximum recommended number of attempts.
  8. The essay question asks students to analyze a 650-700 word document and explain how the author builds an argument. Students need not have previous knowledge of any particular subject to successfully answer the essay question as the test focuses on the reading, writing, and analysis skills of the test-takers.
  9. There is no definition of a 'good' SAT score. Generally speaking, scoring close to the mean (average) - about 500 on critical reading and writing and 500 on mathematics - shows that a student has scored as well as about half of the other students who have taken the test.
  10. Each college has its own way of using test scores and evaluating applicants. The SAT score reports sent to colleges include score ranges and percentiles that provide some context for how well a student has performed in the test.
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